waste recycle plastic
Recycling plastic is just one of the ways to create value from waste in a circular economy. Image: Pixabay.

Philanthropic organisation Bestseller Foundation has created a Waste to Value Accelerator in Kenya.

The Bestseller Foundation announced the names of the first three companies – Zijani, Yo-Waste and Gjenge Makers –  who will receive technical and finance support to grow their waste to value business.

The three companies were chosen from a list of more than 400 applicants from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, who had applied to the Waste to Value Challenge last year. Bestseller Foundation had collaborated with Intellecap to run the Challenge.

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The businesses will now receive $100,000 in the form of convertible debt, as needed. Intellecap will manage the Accelerator and provide technical assistance to the enterprises between August 2020 and March 2021.

Intellecap associate partner Karnika Yadav, said each enterprise will undergo a customised support programme. “The accelerator will cover topics such as waste sector market analysis, market development, product refinement, business planning and operations, financial management and financial modelling. Intellecap will address the specific gaps at enterprise level with a focus on ensuring the investment received is transformational to the enterprise, while also contributing to the strengthening of the waste sector in the region,” said Yadav.

Ziyani is a Kenyan start-up that reclaims used vegetable oil from bulk cooking institutions such as hotels and restaurants. It supplies the cooking oil as raw material to other larger manufactures of soap and biofuels.

Ugandan start-up Yo-Waste is a smart waste management business that connects households and business to the nearest garbage collectors at the touch of a button.

Also, Kenya based, Gjenge Makers is a start-up that produces eco-friendly paving systems made from recycled plastic waste and sand.

Additional start-ups to join the Accelerator will be added over the next few months.

Waste not want not, for a circular economy

Bestseller Foundation supports initiatives with impactful, on-the-ground prevent and rehabilitation efforts targeting vulnerable communities in urban, informal settlements characterised by a dense population and acute poverty.

Waste management is a challenge facing the whole of Africa – as countries are urbanising faster than centralised waste management systems can be created, leading to socio-economic and environmental challenges. The recycling and disposal of waste, when done at all, is handled using old and traditional methods with under-developed structures and insufficient capacities.

Increasingly, innovative start-ups are developing alternative solutions for better waste management which could catalyse cleaner and more circular economies across the continent. However, these potential enterprises face multiple constraints at macro and micro level which hamper their growth and scale – no supportive policies, regulations or laws; lack of access to capital; and inadequate technical skills to scale up their innovations into strong businesses.

Bestseller Foundation MD, Jannek Hagen, said waste has always been someone else’s problem in Africa, but they’re making it their own problem: “We need to be much more circular and efficient in our use of resources and materials and much smarter in management waste, in reaping value from waste. Otherwise, we cannot sustainably support the exponential population growth over the next decades, expected to especially occur in Africa. The Bestseller Foundation is committed to supporting innovative start-ups working at the frontline to convert waste to value with the ultimate goal of creating sustainable businesses and sustainable economies.”